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A Step-by-Step Guide to Mosquito Electroantennography

Published: March 10, 2021 doi: 10.3791/62042


The present article details a step-by-step protocol for successful and low noise electroantennograms in several genera of mosquitoes, including both females and males.


Female mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on earth, claiming the lives of more than 1 million people every year due to pathogens they transmit when acquiring a blood-meal. To locate a host to feed on, mosquitoes rely on a wide range of sensory cues, including visual, mechanical, thermal, and olfactory. The study details a technique, electroantennography (EAG), that allows researchers to assess whether the mosquitoes can detect individual chemicals and blends of chemicals in a concentration-dependent manner. When coupled with gas-chromatography (GC-EAG), this technique allows to expose the antennae to a full headspace/complex mixture and determines which chemicals present in the sample of interest, the mosquito can detect. This is applicable to host body odors as well as plant floral bouquets or other ecologically relevant odors (e.g., oviposition sites odorants). Here, we described a protocol that permits long durations of preparation responsiveness time and is applicable to both female and male mosquitoes from multiple genera, including Aedes, Culex, Anopheles, and Toxorhynchites mosquitoes. As olfaction plays a major part in mosquito-host interactions and mosquito biology in general, EAGs and GC-EAG can reveal compounds of interest for the development of new disease vector control strategies (e.g., baits). Complemented with behavioral assays, the valence (e.g., attractant, repellent) of each chemical can be determined.


Mosquitoes are the deadliest organisms on earth, claiming the lives of more than one million people per year and place more than half the world population at risk of exposure to the pathogens they transmit, while biting1. These insects rely on a wide range of cues (i.e., thermal, visual, mechanical, olfactory, auditory) to locate a host to feed on (both plant and animal), for mating and oviposition, as well as to avoid predators at both the larval and adult stages2,3. Among these senses, olfaction plays a critical role in the above mentioned behaviors, in particular for medium to long-range detection of odorant molecules2,3. Odors emitted by a host or an oviposition site are detected by various specific olfactory receptors (e.g., GRs, ORs, IRs) located on the mosquito palps proboscis, tarsi, and antennae2,3.

As olfaction is a key component of their host-seeking (plant and animal), mating and oviposition behaviors, it thus constitutes an ideal target to study to develop new tools for mosquito control4. Research on repellents (e.g., DEET, IR3535, picaridin) and baits (e.g., BG sentinel human lure) is extremely prolific5, but because of the current challenges in mosquito control (e.g., insecticide resistance, invasive species), it is essential to develop new efficient control methods informed by the mosquito biology.

Many techniques (e.g., olfactometer, landing assays, electrophysiology) have been used to assess the bioactivity of compounds or mixtures of compounds in mosquitoes. Among them, electroantennography (or electroantennograms (EAGs)) can be used to determine whether the odorants are detected by the mosquito antennae. This technique was initially developed by Schneider6 and has been used in many different insect genera since then, including moths7,8,9, bumblebees10,11, honeybees12,13, and fruit flies14,15 to name a few. Electroantennography has also been employed using various protocols, including single or multiple antennae in mosquitoes16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25.

Mosquitoes are relatively small and delicate insects with rather thin antennae. While performing EAGs on larger insects such as moths or bumblebees is relatively easy because of their larger size and thicker antennae, conducting EAGs in mosquitoes can be challenging. In particular, maintaining a good signal-to-noise ratio and a lasting responsive preparation are two major requirements for data reproducibility and reliability.

The step-by-step guide to low noise EAGs proposed here directly offers solutions to these limitations and make this protocol applicable to several mosquito species from various genera, including Aedes, Anopheles, Culex, and Toxorhynchites, and describes the technique for both females and males. Electroantennography offers a quick yet reliable way to screen and determine bioactive compounds that can then be leveraged in bait development after valence has been determined with behavioral assays.

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1. Saline solution preparation

  1. Prepare the saline in advance and store in the fridge.
  2. Follow Beyenbach and Masia26 to prepare the solution.
    ​NOTE: Saline recipe in mM: 150.0 NaCl, 25.0 HEPES, 5.0 glucose, 3.4 KCl, 1.8 NaHCO3, 1.7 CaCl2, and 1.0 MgCl2. The pH is adjusted to 7.1 with 1 M NaOH. Do not add glucose or sucrose to the preparation at this time to increase shelf storage. Add the needed quantity to the saline right before running the EAGs (around 50 mL per experiment).

2. Odor preparation and storage

  1. Prepare the odorant mixtures or single compound dilutions in advance in 1.5 mL amber vials and store at -20 °C to prevent compound degradation.
    NOTE: Concentrations will depend on the test to be conducted. 0.1% or 1% are commonly used to determine whether a compound can be detected or not. For a dose-response curve, prepare serial dilutions of a given chemical and test them from that the lowest to the highest concentrations.
  2. Prepare the dilutions in water, ethanol, hexane, paraffin oil, or mineral oil, depending on the solubility of the tested chemical.
  3. Make sure to prepare a solvent control (a vial containing only the solvent) for the experiment.
  4. Remove the odorants from the freezer 30 min prior to starting the experiments to allow them to thaw. Vortex each vial prior to use to mix well the chemical and the solvent.
  5. Pipette 10 µL of solution on to a piece of filter paper (0.5 cm x 2 cm) loaded inside a labeled glass syringe or Pasteur pipette.
  6. Load each compound or mixture in a specific Pasteur pipette or syringe to prevent contamination.
    NOTE: Load 10 min before starting the experiment so the odor can diffuse in the syringe but not for longer to prevent degradation. Let the Pasteur pipette or syringe remain capped at this time to allow a good diffusion of the chemical before the experiment starts.
  7. After each EAG run, dispose the piece of the filter paper and replace it with a new one to prevent the paper from getting oversoaked and risking needle blockage. Replace the needles regularly (every 10 runs).

3. Mosquito separation

  1. Isolate the mosquitoes on the day of the experiments.
  2. Use mosquitoes that are at least 6 days old on the day of the experiments to increase the chances that the females are mated to enhance their response to host-related odorants.
    NOTE: Adjust mosquito age at the time of the test depending on the project. Check and harmonize the physiological status (e.g., blood-fed, starved, never previously fed, etc.).
  3. Starve the mosquitoes up to 12 h (i.e., no access to sugar) to increase their motivation and sensitivity.
  4. Place the mosquito container in the fridge (4 °C) until they stop flying so individuals can easily be delicately transferred to single cups with forceps.
    NOTE: Species with a higher tolerance to cold can be put down using a CO2 fly pad. Ensure that the mosquitoes do not stay on it for a long time to prevent desiccation, which would decrease the responsiveness of the mosquito EAG preparation.
  5. Store the cups containing single mosquitoes at room temperature before the EAGs are performed and discard any mosquitoes that may not be used during the day.

4. Electrode holder and capillary preparation

  1. Capillary pulling, preparation, and storage
    1. Use borosilicate capillaries with filaments (I.D: 0.78 mm, O.D: 1 mm). Pull them depending on the equipment27.
      NOTE: Store the pulled capillaries in a Petri dish. Place the Petri dish on to pieces of wax or unscented modeling clay to prevent them from moving and breaking.
    2. Before running the EAG experiment, gently break the tip of 2 capillaries with a pair of forceps under the microscope.
      NOTE: Ensure that one is slightly bigger than the other to fit either the neck (larger capillary) or the tips of the antennae (smaller capillary). Ensure that the cut is clean with no crack present on the capillary wall. This requires patience and practice.
    3. If still intact, reuse these capillaries after rinsing with de-ionized (DI) water after the experiment is over. Remove the excess water by gently applying a cleaning wipe against the tip. Place back in storage Petri dish. If the tip is crooked, discard the capillary.
  2. Electrode holder and capillary mounting
    1. Label the two electrode holders as "recording" and "reference" by using pieces of lab tape of different colors. This will help guide the mounting of the mosquito head and electrodes.
    2. Ensure that the electrode holders are clear inside and that no borosilicate debris are present.
    3. Chloridization: Soak the silver wires of the electrode holders in pure bleach for about 5 min. The wires turn from shiny light grey to matte dark grey.
    4. Loosen the rubber stopper and fill the inside of the capillary with 10% saline solution using a 20 G needle.
    5. Fill the borosilicate capillary with the saline solution using a syringe. Ensure that no bubbles are present in neither the electrode holder nor the pulled capillary.
      ​NOTE: To reduce the chances of having bubbles in the capillary, keep pushing saline in the capillary while gently pulling the needle out and use capillaries with a filament. It is possible to load the capillaries with a solution composed of 1:3 electrode gel and saline solution. This can help prevent evaporation of the saline and can be particularly useful when learning and practicing EAGs, as the experimenter will need more time to complete the different steps.
    6. After soaking, rinse the silver wires with DI water and insert them in the two capillaries. Ensure that the tip of the wire is less than 1 mm from the tip of the capillary. Ensure that the capillary passes the rubber ring inside the electrode holder without breaking. Gently tighten the rubber stopper. Verify that no air bubbles are present.
    7. Use the capillary with the wider opening on the reference electrode holder (neck), and the smaller opening on the recording electrode holder (antennae).
    8. Leave the two mounted electrode holders on a wet cleaning wipe to prevent the tip from drying out until ready to mount the head.

5. EAG rig preparation (Figure 1)

  1. Ensure that the air table is up, that there is no blockage in the airline. Ensure that the tank of medical air is still full to avoid changing it in the middle of the experiment. Make sure that there are bubbles in the humidifier.
  2. Air and pulse delivery system
    1. Turn on the medical air gas tank.
    2. Check the level of the two flowmeters.
      ​NOTE: The flowmeter controlling the main air current bathing the preparation during the whole experiment should be at 140 mL/min and the other related to the odor pulse should read 15 mL/min.
  3. If doing GC-EAD, turn on the machine, gas tanks and create/load the file/method.
  4. Turn on the computers, the software applications, valve power supply, and verify the internet connection for the software application to work.
    1. Software application: A short script can be written to deliver the pulse.
    2. EAG software: use any electrophysiology software.
    3. Implement the parameters in the software (e.g., amplifier, duration of recording, duration of the pulses, etc.).
  5. Deliver a control pulse to verify that the valve delivering the pulses is functional.
  6. Set the power supply at 5.2 V. Verify the amplifier parameters.
    NOTE: The parameters used for the data presented here are: low cut-off filter of 0.1 Hz; high cut-off filter of 500 Hz; Gain of x100.

6. Mosquito head preparation and mounting (Figure 2)

  1. Place an aluminum plate on ice and place a piece of wet cleaning wipe over it.
  2. Put a small dollop of electrode gel in a corner.
  3. Place a mosquito cup on ice and let the mosquito cool down for a couple of minutes, or until it is stops flying.
    NOTE: Some species are cold-resistant and might require a quick anesthesia over a CO2 fly pad to go down. The least the mosquito stays on either, the better.
  4. Place the mosquito on its back and clip the tip of each antenna (only a small portion of the last segment) with micro scissors.
  5. Use forceps to drag the mosquito next to the electrode gel dollop and dip each antenna's tip gently in the gel. Avoid dipping more than just the very last segment in the electrode gel.
  6. Using forceps, pull the mosquito antennae out while maintaining them next to each other. Let them come out together from the gel. Make sure that the antennae do not touch the cleaning wipe's surface, or they might separate.
  7. Place the mosquito on its side and chop the head using micro scissors or a razor blade.
    NOTE: Once the head is chopped, proceed quickly to the next steps and to the EAG rig to start the recordings. The preparation should stay responsive for about 30 min.
  8. Take the reference electrode and gently deep the tip in the gel. Keep in contact with neck tissues and let the head stick on it.
  9. Move the electrode holders under the EAG microscope and view through the microscope to place the head (i.e., reference) electrode on a micromanipulator. Ensure that the antennae are at the center.
  10. Grab the recording electrode, place it in front of the antennae tips. Move and align it as close as possible to the tips using the micromanipulator. Using the microscope, move the tip of the recording electrode towards the antennae.
  11. Connect both electrode holders to the amplifier before inserting the tips to prevent them from moving after insertion.
  12. Insert the antennae tips in the recording electrode. Ensure that they just contact the saline and the electrode gel and are visible by transparency through the capillary. The antenna goes in by the "suction effect".
  13. Adjust the position of the head and tips with forceps under the microscope, if needed.
  14. Place the airline tubing close to the mosquito head preparation (distance: 1 cm).
    NOTE: If the head falls off, return to the dissection station and remount the head or prepare a new one if it has been lost or if it has been more than 5 min since the head was cut off. A good connection between the capillary and the neck/antennae is essential for low noise and reliable recording. Ideally, the antennae tips will be at less than 1 mm from the wire of the recording electrode once inserted.
  15. Turn off the light source, if used.
  16. Position the vacuum line near the mosquito head preparation (distance: 20 cm) and align with the main airline.
    ​NOTE: The vacuum will help remove chemicals surrounding the head preparation after the stimulus, which could lead to EAG responses after the pulses were applied.

7. Recordings

  1. After insertion of the tips of the antennae, turn on the amplifier and the noise reducer. Observe the baseline signal and ensure that it is not noisy.
    NOTE: Observe whether large oscillations in the electrical signal are present. Adjust the position of the head and antennae tips as needed until the signal is clean. Use alligator clips to ground anything that introduces noise to the Faraday cage or air table. A baseline signal of less than 0.01 mV in amplitude is ideal for detecting and discriminating minute EAG responses.
  2. Once the noise level is satisfying, insert the first odor syringe to test in the airline hole.
  3. Close the Faraday cage. Do not stay in front of the preparation, to reduce noise.
  4. Click on Record on EAG software.
  5. Deliver the pulse(s) using the software application.
    NOTE: The number and duration of the pulses will vary depending on the experiments. Here, single 1 s. pulses per odorant have been used. Odorants were separated by 45 s.
  6. Note the response of the mosquito antennae in the lab notebook.
    NOTE: If the odorant is detected by the mosquito antennae, a clear deflection in the signal is observed (see Figure 3A).
  7. Proceed with the next odor or concentration. Do not forget to randomize the presentation of odorants unless a dose-response curve is performed.
    NOTE: A negative control and a positive control should be used in the experiments. This will ensure that the responses observed are indeed olfactory responses and not due to mechanical or electric noise.
  8. At the end of the recording, apply a positive control to verify that the antennae are still responsive.
    NOTE: Use 0.1% or 1% benzaldehyde as all mosquito species tested so far have been responsive to this compound.
  9. Proceed with the next mosquito preparation.

8. Cleaning

  1. Turn off the amplifier, the noise reducer, the airline, and the computer.
  2. Return the odorants to the freezer.
  3. Remove the filter papers from the glass syringes and clean with 100% ethanol if residue is visible on the walls. Let dry on a cleaning wipe overnight.
  4. Clean the electrode holders with DI water to remove any possible trace of salt. Dry by gently applying against a piece of cleaning wipe.
  5. Place mosquito remains in the freezer and dispose 24 h later.
    ​NOTE: If working with infected mosquitoes, follow safety requirements at your institution.

9. Data analyses

  1. Measure either manually or automatically the EAG responses.
    NOTE: The EAG amplitude (-mV) is measured here. Average if multiple pulses have been applied for each compound. Depending on the software used, EAGs can be automatically detected and measured. However, it is essential to inspect each response individually to verify the shape of the response and assess the possible carry-over, delayed response, etc. The ideal EAG response is aligned with the pulse, shows a clear deflection, and is repeatable between mosquito preparations (Figure 3).
  2. Present the raw data to show minimal variability, low noise signal, and clear responses (Figure 3B).
    NOTE: The data can also be normalized (e.g., Z-score). The negative control value (e.g., mineral oil) (i.e., the baseline) can be subtracted from the response and, if not, should be presented in the figures. A positive control should also be presented.
  3. Perform statistical analysis using any statistics software28.

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Representative Results

Electroantennography is a powerful tool to determine whether a chemical or blend of chemicals is detected by an insect antenna. It can also be used to determine the detection threshold for a given chemical using a gradual increase of concentration (i.e., dose curve response, Figure 4B). Moreover, it is useful to test the effects of repellent on the response to host-related odors29.

Positive and negative controls should always be used in EAGs. Here, benzaldehyde was used as a positive control (Figure 3B, 3C, 4A). This compound has been found to elicit an antennal response in all mosquito species tested so far24,25,29. A negative control should also be used and can consist of the solvent used for diluting the chemicals (e.g., mineral or paraffin oils, hexane, etc.) and should not elicit a response (Figure 3B, 3C, 4A).

Indeed, when conducting EAGs, a deflection should not be noted when applying the control (Figure 3B, 3C, 4A). If a response is observed, either the syringe, the solvent control, and/or the odor line is likely contaminated. If it is the case, a new solution should be prepared, the syringe cleaned with 100% ethanol and dried and/or the airline decontaminated by rinsing with 100% ethanol and dried. If the chosen control elicits a response (e.g., ethanol), the value obtained in -mV for the control should be subtracted from the value obtained for ethanol and tested chemical combined to assess the impact of the tested chemical on the antennae.

Mosquito species vary in their ability to respond to various compounds as well as in the magnitude of their response. For example, Toxorhynchites mosquitoes produce very large EAGs in comparison to Ae. aegypti, An. Stephensi and Cx. quinquefasciatus (Figure 3C, Figure 4A).

In EAGs, the second pulse and the following usually lead to smaller EAG responses. The presentation of one odorant can also affect the response to the following, so it is important to randomize the odorant order and multiple assays to efficiently test a panel of odorants (unless a dose-response curve is performed). Moreover, separating pulses (e.g., 5 s) and odorants (e.g., 45 s) presentation will help to optimize the EAG responses.

The volatility of the tested chemicals varies and can affect the olfactory response and potentially lead to a delayed response if the tested chemical has very low volatility. Chemical volatility and solubility should be known before conducting EAGs to optimize the assay. The solvent used to prepare the dilutions should also be carefully selected (e.g., ethanol, hexane, mineral, or paraffin oil). Moreover, concentrations should be chosen wisely and should ideally be ecologically relevant. A 1% or 0.1% concentration is often used but is relatively high and not necessarily representative of what the insects can experience in nature. Yet, it is useful to screen compounds with relatively high concentrations in some cases (e.g., for bait development). Repellents can be tested at their commercially available concentration (e.g., DEET is typically sold at a 40% concentration).

If coupled with gas chromatography (i.e., GC-EADs)25, the compounds eliciting a response can be identified with a GC-MS and then tested individually at various concentrations or in mixtures with EAGs. It is worth mentioning that the valence of the tested chemicals cannot be determined with EAGs. Only a complementary behavioral experiment (e.g., olfactometer, feeding assay) can assess whether the chemical detected by the antennae is attractive, repellent, or neutral to the mosquito. Finally, EAG experiments are only showing responses of the peripheral nervous system.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Electroantennogram setup comprised of: A) Microscope: the microscope used should allow the experimenter to clearly see the preparation to allow the mosquito antennae tips to be inserted in the recording electrodes. B) Cold light lamp: the lamp should be turned off when the recordings begin. C) Vacuum line: this reduces the risk of accumulation of the odorants around the mosquito head preparation, which could result in antennal responses decoupled from actual stimulation. D) Micromanipulators (x2): these will allow for very fine electrode holders movements, which is required for inserting the mosquito antennae in the capillary of the recording electrode. E) Recording electrode holder. F) Reference electrode holder. G) Head stage: both electrodes are plugged in the head stage which is then connected to the amplifier. H) Main airline: a constant clean airflow bathed the mosquito head. The flow rate is regulated by a flowmeter. I) Syringe for odor delivery connected to the solenoid valve and flowmeter; J) Air table: the air table will reduce noise. K) Faraday cage: The Faraday cage will prevent electric noise. Please click here to view a larger version of this figure.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Step-by-step Aedes albopictus mosquito head preparation for EAG recordings. A) Female mosquito on its back on an icy plate to verify that both antennae are intact. B) Last segment of the antennae excision with micro scissors. C) Antennae are dipped in electrode gel. D) The antennae stick together after pulling them out. Only one segment of each antenna should be in the electrode gel. E) Mosquito head excision. F) Head mounted on the reference electrode. It should be stable enough to be moved to the EAG rig. A'-F'. Same steps as presented above for male EAGs. Please click here to view a larger version of this figure.

Figure 3
Figure 3: Schematic of the mosquito EAG and raw EAG traces. A) EAG schematic (left) and characteristics of the EAG response (right). (Left) The mosquito head is mounted between a reference electrode and a recording electrode connected to an amplifier. The antennae are bathed in a constant airflow in which odorant stimuli are pulsed. Detection of a chemical leads to a deflection (in mV) in the signal. (right) The chemical detection leads to cell depolarization (DPR) followed by cell repolarization (RPR) until return to baseline. The odorant pulse is represented by the gray rectangle. The red line indicates the amplitude of the EAG response. B) Screenshot of the WinEDR software highlighting a whole EAG recording trace of a Culex quinquefasciatus female mosquito. Top: unfiltered (i.e., raw) signal. Middle: 1 s odor pulses are indicated by numbers. Bottom: filtered (i.e., 1.5 Hz low pass) signal to 3 odorants and a control (mineral oil). Note the deflections in response to 1% 1-hexanol (1), 1% benzaldehyde (2), and 1% butyric acid (3). Note the absence of response to the negative control, mineral oil (4). C) From left to right: Representative EAG responses (in mV) to 1% benzaldehyde (top) and a mineral oil control (bottom) in females Aedes aegypti, Anopheles stephensi, Culex quinquefasciatus, and Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis. The one-second pulse is represented by the colored rectangle above the EAG trace. Note the large deflection in response to benzaldehyde and the lack of response to the mineral oil. Also, note the different scale in Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis. Please click here to view a larger version of this figure.

Figure 4
Figure 4: Example representation of EAG results and their statistical analyses. A. Average EAG responses of Culex quinquefasciatus (N = 8), Anopheles stephensi (N = 10), Aedes aegypti (N = 8) and Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis (N = 7) females to 1% 1-hexanol (green), 1% butyric acid (orange), 1% benzaldehyde (yellow) and mineral oil (blue). B. Culex quinquefasciatus females EAG dose-response curve for 1-hexanol (left) (N = 9) and benzaldehyde (right) (N = 8). Bars represent standard error of the mean. Letters above error bars indicate statistical differences (Pairwise Wilcoxon rank sum test with a Bonferroni correction). Please click here to view a larger version of this figure.

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Olfactory mediated behaviors are affected by many factors, including physiological (e.g., age, time of day) and environmental (e.g., temperature, relative humidity)30. Thus, when conducting EAGs, it is essential to use insects that are in the same physiological status (i.e., monitoring for age, starving, mating)31 and to also maintain a warm and humid environment around the preparation to avoid desiccation. A temperature around 25 °C is ideal and 60% to 80% humidity for the main airline. This can be easily achieved by placing a bubbler on the main airline circuit.

Moreover, it is important to consider the ecology of each species to obtain results that are relevant to the insect's biology. For example, if using a nocturnal species, consider inversing their light cycle to test their response during their subjective night. Choosing to conduct EAGs at specific moments of the day (i.e., when the insect is active) is also important. For example, if using Ae. aegypti mosquitoes, consider doing the experiments during the peaks of activity of this species (i.e., early in the day and later afternoon). Again, the light cycle can be easily shifted for convenience using climatic chambers or light boxes with an inversed light program using a programmable timer32. Eilerts et al.33 and Krishnan et al.34, have shown that the sensitivity to specific odorants varies throughout the day. Thus, a good knowledge of the insect's ecology and biology will guaranty more accurate results.

Noise (either electrical or mechanical) can be easily introduced in EAGs. For example, mechanical perturbations can be created by an AC system blowing air towards an EAG preparation. Electrical noise can be reduced with the Humbug, but, if persisting, can be tracked down by plugging elements and grounding them to the Faraday cage using alligator clips (Figure 3B). This applies to all the elements present around the preparation (i.e., microscope, lamp, micromanipulators). Some pieces of equipment in the Faraday cage should be unplugged before recording as they might still produce electrical noise (e.g., cold light source) or placed outside the cage. Another type of "noise" is of olfactory nature. The experimenter should avoid wearing perfume or use strongly scented shampoo or detergent. Indeed, many compounds found in these can be detected by mosquitoes (e.g., linalool, citronellol, geraniol, eugenol) and may interfere and affect the results of the experiments. Wearing a lab coat and gloves is also essential to limit unwanted contamination of the airline, syringes, and electrodes.

The presented protocol has the advantage of being easily applicable to all mosquito species, in both males and females, while extending the longevity of the preparation (> 30 min) and with limited variability between preparations. This method leads to very minimal noise in the EAG signal, which allows for testing chemicals at very low concentrations. Once the dissection and mounting steps have been mastered, this technique can produce reliable data in a relatively short amount of time, and straightforward data analyses.

Electroantennography only allows the experimenter to assess whether the mosquito can detect a chemical or not. However, to determine the valence of this chemical, complementary behavioral assays, such as olfactometer assays, are critical to determining whether a specific odorant or mixture is attractive, repellent, or neutral in order to develop efficient tools for mosquito control35.

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The author has nothing to disclose.


I am grateful to Dr. Clément Vinauger and Dr. Jeffrey Riffell for helpful discussions. The following reagents were obtained through BEI Resources, NIAID, NIH: Anopheles stephensi, Strain STE2, MRA-128, contributed by Mark Q. Benedict; Aedes aegypti, Strain ROCK, MRA-734, contributed by David W. Severson; Culex quinquefasciatus, Strain JHB, Eggs, NR-43025. The author thanks Dr. Jake Tu, Dr. Nisha Duggal, Dr. James Weger and Jeffrey Marano for providing Culex quinquefasciatus and Anopheles stephensi (strain: Liston) mosquito eggs. Aedes albopictus and Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis are derived from field mosquitoes collected by the author in the New River Valley area (VA, USA). This work was supported by The Department of Biochemistry and The Fralin Life Science Institute.


Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Air table Clean Bench TMC https://www.techmfg.com/products/labtables/cleanbench63series/accessoriess Noise reducer
Analog-to-digital board National Instruments BNC-2090A
Benchtop Flowbuddy Complete Genesee Scientific 59-122BC To anesthesize mosquitoes
Borosillicate glass capillary Sutter Instrument B100-78-10 To make the recording and references capillaries
Chemicals Sigma Aldrich Benzaldehyde: 418099-100 mL; Butyric acid: B103500-100mL; 1-Hexanol: 471402-100mL; Mineral oil: M8410-1L Chemicals used for the experiments presented here
CO2 Airgas or Praxair N/A To anesthesize mosquitoes
Cold Light Source Volpi NCL-150
Disposable syringes BD 1 mL (309628)  / 3 mL (309657)
Electrode cables World Precision Instruments 5371
Electrode gel salt free Parkerlabs 12-08-Spectra-360
Faraday cage TMC https://www.techmfg.com/products/electric-and-magnetic-field-cancellation/faradaycages Noise reducer
Flowmeters Bel-art 65 mm (H40406-0010) / 150 mm (H40407-0075) One of each
GCMS vials and caps Thermo-fisher scientific 2-SVWKA8-CPK To prepare odorant dilutions
Glass syringes (Fortuna) Sigma Aldrich Z314307 For odor delivery to the EAG prep
Humbug Quest Scientific http://www.quest-sci.com/ Noise reducer
2 mm Jack Holder, Narrow, 90 deg., With Wire A-M Systems 675748 Electrode holder
Magnetic bases Kanetec MB-FX x 2
MATLAB + Toolboxes Mathworks https://www.mathworks.com/products/matlab.html For delivering the pulses
Medical air Airgas or Praxair N/A For main airline
Microscope Nikkon SMZ-800N
Micromanipulators Three-Axis Coarse/Fine Compact Micromanipulator Narishige MHW-3 x 2
Microelectrode amplifier with headstage A-M Systems Model 1800
Mosquito rearing supplies Bioquip https://www.bioquip.com/Search/WebCatalog.asp
Needles BD 25G (305127) / 21G (305165)
Pasteur pipettes Fisher Scientific 13-678-6A For odor delivery to the EAG prep
PTFE Tubing of different diameters Mc Master Carr N/A To connect solenoid valve, flowmeter, airline ect.
30V/5A DC Power Supply Dr. Meter PS-305DM
R version 3.5.1 R project https://www.r-project.org/ For data analyses
Relay for solenoid valve N/A Custom made
Silver wire 0.01” A-M Systems 782500
Solenoid valve (3-way) The Lee Company LHDA0533115H
WinEDR software Strathclyde Electrophysiology Software WinEDR V3.9.1 For EAG recording
Whatman paper Cole Parmer UX-06648-03 To load chemical in glass syringe / Pasteur pipette



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Mosquito Electroantennography Step-by-step Guide Physiological Status Reliable Results Mosquito Species Males And Females Insect Models Beetles Flies Kissing Bugs Ants Odorant Mixtures Solvent Control 20 Degree Celsius Freezer Filter Paper Glass Syringe Borosilicate Capillaries Filaments Forceps Electrode Holders Chloridization Silver Wires Pure Bleach Saline Solution
A Step-by-Step Guide to Mosquito Electroantennography
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Lahondère, C. A Step-by-StepMore

Lahondère, C. A Step-by-Step Guide to Mosquito Electroantennography. J. Vis. Exp. (169), e62042, doi:10.3791/62042 (2021).

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